The city of Las Vegas probably will need wage cuts from employees and more reductions in how fast wages grow in order to keep budgets out of the red, city officials said Monday.
And while budget projections show Las Vegas starting to emerge from the recession as soon as 2011, Mayor Oscar Goodman was pessimistic.
“I hope you’re right. I don’t think you are,” Goodman said to Mark Vincent, an interim deputy city manager, after a presentation on next year’s budget. “Everything that I see is much more daunting than your projections.”
For the coming fiscal year, Las Vegas expects $503.8 million in general fund revenue, a 2.1 percent decline from the current year. Expenses, however, are expected to increase to $540 million.
The difference will be made up by reserves. The city will have to dip into the reserves again in 2011, according to projections.
The city will be back in the black by 2012, though, the forecast says — as long as labor costs are reduced by $10 million.
Vincent said the projections include a 2 percent wage rollback as well as another 1 percentage point reduction in annual wage growth. Three of the city’s four unions have already accepted 1 percentage point reductions in cost-of-living increases that were in their contracts.
City Manager Betsy Fretwell said work on those reductions should start now.
“Those are not easy discussions to have,” she said.
A representative of the Las Vegas City Employees Association, the largest of the four city unions, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Council members took no action Monday.
A tentative budget is set to be presented April 15, followed by a public hearing on May 19. The final document is due June 1.
Over the last 18 months, Las Vegas has trimmed $50 million from planned city spending, Fretwell said, and more steps to streamline departments are being taken.
The city expects to be $5.4 million ahead at the end of this budget year, and has a $102 million reserve to draw on in the next few years.
Contact reporter Alan Choate at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-229-6435.